TORONTO — official release — Al Steinberg photo — Nearly seven years had passed since Sebastien Bourdais claimed his last Indy car pole.
That streak, covering 54 starts for the four-time CART champion, ended July 19 as the driver of the No. 11 Hydroxycut KVSH Racing car earned the Verizon P1 Award for Race 1 of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader.
Bourdais’ lap of 58.9479 seconds (107.179 mph) on the 1.7-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit at Exhibition Place in the 10-minute Firestone Fast Six session supplanted Will Power (59.1025) for his first pole start since Assen on Sept. 2, 2007 in the Champ Car race.
Bourdais is the 10th different Verizon P1 Award winner in the 13 Verizon IndyCar Series races, and he tied Michael Andretti for eighth all time with his 32nd pole. His next task is to secure his first Indy car victory since Nov. 11, 2007, at Mexico City.
“It’s a bit of casino race here. Anything can happen,” said Bourdais, whose next win will be his 32nd and break a tie with Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy on the career list. “But we keep on displaying pace and showing up at the front, so hopefully at some point it’s going to break and we’re going to make it.”
Five different teams were represented in the Firestone Fast Six. Bourdais’ lap time was quicker than the pole-winning times of Franchitti and Scott Dixon in last July’s doubleheader.
Helio Castroneves, the series championship front-runner, joins Ryan Hunter-Reay on Row 2 for the 85-lap race that features a standing start. Simon Pagenaud, a two-time winner this season on road/street circuits, will occupy Row 3 with Tony Kanaan.
“We qualified third and we’re kind of upset about it. That’s a good thing,” said Castroneves, who takes a nine-point championship advantage over Team Penske teammate Power into the race. “It’s a great position to start the race.”
Dixon, who swept the doubleheader in 2013, will start 12th in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car.
For Race 2 on July 20, all entries shall participate in one of two groups for 12 minutes each of track time. The Verizon P1 Award will be awarded to the best overall lap time.